Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots
What with the recent skirmish to Afghanistan and the unfinished messing around in Iraq, empire building is all the rage at the moment. What better time then, to release the first expansion pack to last year's excellent empire builder Rise Of Nations, appropriately titled Thrones And Patriots. The 'More! More! More!' aspect of the add-on is taken care of by the inclusion of six new nations, 20 new units, two new strategic wonders, four new single-player campaigns and a new game concept: government. Most of the new units belong to the new nations, like the American Marines and the Persian's impressive line of war elephants. But let's be honest - chucking these into an already huge game doesn't really change the experience.
We Run T'ings
Governments are managed through the new senate building. Here, you research political systems, with each regime style subtly affecting the mechanics of your economy and fighting units. The flipside to the Senate's new options is that RoN was already in danger of becoming a frenzied upgrade-fest in the larger missions. Juggling a campaign in enemy territory and keeping up with the Joneses on the technology and infrastructure front is now even more of a head shag. Unless, of course, you use the pause function - but pausing in a real-time strategy game is for pussies, right?
What you're really paying for in Thrones And Patriots are the four new single-player campaigns. The original game's solitary campaign started at the dawn of civilisation and ended about now. The main problem was that just as you'd get stuck into the units and technologies of one era, things would arbitrarily advance to the next. This time around, the campaigns are each rooted firmly in a particular epoch.
The Alexander campaign never leaves Ancient times, for example, as you lead the Macedonians in their quest to control the Eastern Mediterranean. The Cold War campaign - the largest - starts in the modern age, ends in the information age and spans an expanded world map. This beauty even has a new set of rules and dynamics involving nuclear weapons and espionage missions.
What makes the campaigns such a joy are the masses of scenarios they contain - some 130 in all. Practically every individual territory now has its own associated mission, giving each game a unique flavour. Unifying Greece as Alexander, for example, has you more concerned with intimidating your foes into submission than slaughtering them. Wresting Burgundy back from the Royalists as Napoleon is more about protecting your cities from revolting peasants and raiding monarchists. And invading Afghanistan as the Soviets is all about using your helicopters to track down the guerrilla training camps before the time limit expires. These missions are what prevents RoN from becoming just another build-and-conquer RTS, and the fact that there are truckloads of them in Patriots means RoN is now better than ever. Go buy. nation builders, and show Dubya how it's done.
Download Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots (RoNTP) is the add-on to Microsoft's "real time strategy" historical war game, Rise of Nations . The rating of Fans Only here relates to the add-on nature of the product but if you refer to the review of the original and are moved to get that as well you could not go wrong. All the ratings are the same as the earlier review because the same qualities have been brought forward to the sequel.
Added here are six new cultures to play (Iroquois, Lakota, American, Dutch, Persian and Indian) and new units -- including the indispensable War Elephant. The concept of government types is added and each has its own advantages, special bonuses and unique Patriot unit.
Most welcome are the four new strategic campaigns. The open ended strategic map system is the heart of this game. Attention to the campaign game is what sets RoN apart from its genre rivals. Though not as deep on the strategic map as the Total War series, there is no "RTS" title to compare. Each decision counts and you may find yourself in a pre-made set piece battle or a build resources random style scenario.
The four new campaigns are Alexander the Great, Napoleon, The New World and the intriguing Cold War, in which subgames can include, for example, refighting of the Bay of Pigs invasion and covert ops on the Russian mainland calling in cruise missile strikes on Crimean oil refineries (an action that surely would have triggered a hot war in real life.) Built into the strategic situation are nuclear weapon balance and a Defcon level, measuring proximity to Armageddon.
Unfortunately the great strategic map has not been exposed in the scenario editor. But the documentation for the editor and scripting language, as promised, has become available on the game's web site.
Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots is a welcome extension of Rise of Nations, a near-perfect mesh of the familiar oblique-overhead map "real time" tactics and turn-based strategy.